Literary Quotes About France

October 2, 2012 at 3:11 pm Leave a comment

“Ask the traveled inhabitant of any nation, in what country on earth would you rather live? Certainly in my own…which would be your second choice? France.”  Thomas Jefferson

“The French have always flattered themselves that they have gone further in the art of living, in what they call l’entente de la vie, than any other people, and with certain restrictions the claim is just. So far as man lives in his senses and his tastes, he certainly lives as well here as he can imagine doing; and so far as he lives by the short run, as it were, rather than the long, he is equally well off…There is to be found here, in other words, a greater amount of current well-being than elsewhere.” Henry James, in a letter to the New York Tribune (1875)

“…the great merit of the place is that one can arrange one’s life here exactly as one pleases…there are facilities for every kind of habit and taste, and everything is accepted and understood.” Henry James, in a letter to a friend (1876)

“From the day I first set foot in France, I became aware of the working of a miracle within me. I became aware of a quick readjustment to life and to environment. I recaptured for the first time since childhood the sense of being just a human being. I need not try to analyze this change for my colored readers: they will understand in a flash what took place. For my white readers…I was suddenly free…free from special scorn, special tolerance, special condescension, special commiseration; free to be merely a man.” James Weldon Johnson, in Along This Way

“Poor France, so beautiful and unhappy and so damn cheerful….” William Faulkner, in a letter to his mother, 1925

“Frenchmen are pretty uniformly gallant and approving of female appearance, and the result is more important than one might think.” Diane Johnson*

“More than its literal translation (‘It’s like that’), c’est comme ca is best rendered as ‘That’s just how it is’…Wherever there is a mystery with no solution, this catchphrase is meant to pierce the fog of befuddlement, like the Eiffel Tower looming above the Champ-de-Mars on an overcast day.” Caroline Weber*

“The French have such an attractive civilization, dedicated to calm pleasures and general tolerance, and their taste in every domain is so sharp, so sure, that the foreigner (especially someone from chaotic, confused America),  is quickly seduced into believing that if he can only become a Parisian he will at last master the art of living…” Edmund White*

“How can foreigners say they like France but not the French? It’s the French who made the France they like–and it is the French who keep it that way.” Gertrude Stein

“The French are endlessly subtle in their embrace of humanity and the mutations of a life. They accept human fault. They expect it.”  Alicia Drake*

“The french whatever else they may be are frank. They are very polite, they are very adroit but sooner or later they always tell you the truth.” Gertrude Stein (in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas)

“It was not what France gave you, but what it did not take away that was important.” Gertrude Stein

Janet Hulstrand is a writer, editor, writing coach, and teacher of writing and literature based in Silver Spring, Maryland.  She teaches literature courses in Paris, Hawaii and Cuba for Queens College, CUNY, and twice a year she offers Writing from the Heart workshops in a beautiful little village in the Champagne region of France. She also teaches culture and literature courses at Politics & Prose bookstore in Washington D.C.

*Quoted from their essays in Penelope Rowland’s Paris Was Ours. 

Entry filed under: About France. Tags: , , , , .

France Bookshelf: Some Good Books About France Remembering My Friend James A. Emanuel

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Twitter Updates


Recent Posts

Want to follow this blog? Just enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,855 other subscribers

%d bloggers like this: